Watch you don’t get hacked by WhatsApp Plus

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp Watch you dont get hacked by WhatsApp PlusHave you been using an app called WhatsApp Plus? Well, stop that at once! You see, WhatsApp have banned some users from using the app for 24 hours because it is a third party application and it violates the ‘terms of service’.

WhatsApp have asked their users to uninstall WhatsApp+ and install the authorised version of WhatsApp from official website or Google Play if they want to resume normal service. This other app isn’t related to WhatsApp, which means it has code that isn’t supported by the company and, worse still, if you get hacked and your details and photos leak, they won’t be taking any responsibility for it.

So if you’ve been sending photos of your junk to people through this third party app, you’re asking for trouble.

WhatsApp are treating the Plus app as malware and, in their FAQ section, they’ve said: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorised by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.”

In short – stop using it, alright? Good.

Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?

January 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?Edward Snowden – the NSA whistleblower – is making some bold claims again, this time, saying that Apple’s iPhones have built-in spy software that can be used to track you. That’s some bad PR for Apple if it turns out to be true, eh?

Snowden’s lawyer says that this software can be activated without the user knowing, and remotely.

“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” says Anatoly Kucherena. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”

Of course, this is at odds with Apple’s recent campaigns to improve privacy for users. You may recall Apple saying that it would be nigh-on impossible for government officials to get personal data from those using iOS 8. Apple have also pushed for stronger privacy protection policies, along with a number of other big tech firms.

According to the Independent, the NSA have published documents that reveal how GCHQ (the British intelligent agency) used this software in the iPhone – known as its UDID – to keep tabs on some people. These documents don’t refer to specific spyware, but there might be more documents on the way.

Kucherena did note that, while Edward Snowden doesn’t use an iPhone, if you want to, no-one is stopping you. Very kind of him that.

Sky: deflecting porn with their shield

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

porn Sky: deflecting porn with their shieldSky have introduced the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter will help protect the nippers from any adult content, and will be rolled out to all their users on an opt-out type scene.

The company have already been emailing their customers about the modesty blanket, saying that they’re getting it whether they like it or not, regardless of whether children are on hand to be alarmed by the likes of gunfire, screaming and baps.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter blocks sites deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 13 during daytime hours, when they should be at school anyway, rather than seeking out wangs on xtube.

Lyssa McGowan, brand director of communications products at Sky, said about the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter: “We’re all aware that cyberspace can present security risks, and that the internet isn’t universally suitable for children. At Sky, when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously and we want what is best for our customers.”

“What we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’, unless customers choose otherwise.”

So, keep an ear out for people ringing Sky’s customers services and saying “Why yes… I’d like to watch dirty films with my internet connection…”

instagram Instagram fix flaw that made your private photos, publicPeople who have private Instagram accounts are weirdos. They’re clearly hiding something at worst. At best, they’re paranoid tin-foil hat types that haven’t realised that the service is owned by Facebook, so your personal privacy is out of the window anyway.

To add to the peculiar notion of locked-down accounts, some of these people automatically send their photos to other services like Tumblr and Facebook, meaning everyone can see what they’re snapping regardless of the settings on the app.

Instagram, when questioned about it, said that this loophole was completely intentional, and not a cock-up on their part.

With that in mind, it interesting that they’ve now issued a patch which means that, unless you’ve had a friend request accepted by the private photographer, you won’t be able to see their photos anywhere.

“If you choose to share a specific piece of content from your account publicly, that link remains public but the account itself is still private,” said an Instagram spokesperson. Another IG bod added: “In response to feedback, we made an update so that if people change their profile from public to private, web links that are not shared on other services are only viewable to their followers on Instagram.”

So there you go. You can’t creep on hotties/cats/pictures of rainbows unless you befriend them through the app now.

Apple’s Spotlight opening you to hacks?

January 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Apples Spotlight opening you to hacks?On OS X Yosemite, you may have noticed that Apple’s Spotlight search function is rather sophisticated, allowing you to search the web as well as peering into your machine for content too. All very clever.

However, it also has a flaw that could well expose your local information to nefarious types. Not so clever.

So what’s going on? Well, the weakness focuses on Apple Mail. Basically, as Spotlight Search indexes emails that have been received within Apple’s email service, it also shows previews of your emails, your images and such.

All a hacker would need to do is to insert a tracking pixel into one of your email’s images and hey presto! They could well be enjoying access to your data!

While the email is in your inbox, you can ignore scams, but Spotlight’s preview function opens up a vulnerability. Seeing as Spotlight opens previews of your junk and spam messages, this could be a problem. Even if you have switched off the “load remote content in messages” feature, it doesn’t exactly fix the problem.

Until Apple issue a fix, the best thing for you to do is to go to your Mac System preferences and switch off email indexing.

Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!

January 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

david cameron government Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!Predictably and tediously, after the murders in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo HQ, David Cameron has announced that he’d like to spy on everyone, in a bid to make us all safer.

So what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? Cameron doesn’t like the fact that certain messaging apps are encrypted, which means your messages are private and the PM wants to be able to see inside them, y’know, just in case you’re a terrorist. So if you use Snapchat or WhatsApp, they could end up being blocked, nationwide.

Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime also have encrypted data, which is no good for a man who wants to increase surveillance and revive the Snoopers Charter, which helps the government to peer into your internet goings-on.

Cameron said: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” The answer for most sensible people is ‘Yes, actually.’ Of course, there’s going to be some people saying ‘I don’t care – I’m not doing anything wrong so why should I be bothered that someone’s looking at my boring messages?’ To those, we admire your belief that government officials won’t end up losing all your private messages and them ending up online or, indeed, misreading some joke you made which sees you getting called in for questioning.

The short version is this: Are you happy with a Prime Minister who says that there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read”?

Of course, companies like WhatsApp are committed to keeping their services encrypted and unreadable by authorities, which is something that has become a real point of principle in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s claims about NSA surveillance.

Privacy groups are, as expected, angry at the idea of governments being able to snoop around your private correspondence, so this is a row that’s only going to get louder in the coming weeks. There’s an election afoot, so we’ll have to see how Cameron plays it.

 Moonpig: not so careful with your sensitive detailsA vulnerability has been found on the Moonpig website which means a ne’er-do-well could get at all your details, including your card number… and it looks like the card-vendor isn’t doing anything about it.

Despite their hokey ‘Oh, we’re just a little company with a crappy hand drawn logo, not like those awful huge businesses’ image, Moonpig actually have millions of customers and have sold around 6 million cards.

Website had a look at the security of the Moonpig site and, after ferreting around said: “I’ve seen some half-arsed security measures in my time but this just takes the biscuit. Whoever architected this system needs to be waterboarded.”

Moonpig’s site uses a basic authentication rather than a session key, which isn’t great and from that point on, continues to get worse. Basically, what was found was that “an attacker would find it very easy to build up a database of Moonpig customers along with their addresses and card details in a few hours”, which is rather unpleasant and very shoddy on behalf of the company.

And to make matters worse, Moonpig aren’t at all bothered.

After the vulnerability was discovered, trying to be responsible, the site contacted Moonpig. They contacted them in 2013! And now, there’s nothing being done.

Here’s what the site said:

18th Aug ’13 – (yes, 2013!) Initial contact made with vendor. After a few e-mails back and fourth their reasoning was legacy code and they’ll “get right on it”.

26th Sep ’14 – Follow up e-mail. Issue still not resolved. ETA “after Christmas”

5th Jan ’15 – Vulnerability still exists with ample amount of time given to vendor to fix the issue.
Initially I was going to wait until they fixed their live endpoints but given the timeframes I’ve decided to publish this post to force Moonpig to fix the issue and protect the privacy of their customers (who knows who else knows about this!). ~17 months is more than enough time to fix an issue like this. It appears customer privacy is not a priority to Moonpig.

If you’re really techie and want to see what this all looks like under the hood, check out the site’s report on it all.

Most Brits have internet regrets

January 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

facebook user 300x193 Most Brits have internet regretsThe average adult has 17 ‘internet regrets’ after posting something they wish they hadn’t, according to a new thing.

The typical Brit apparently deletes ten posts a year from their social networks, when they sober up or just basically come to their senses.

From rants about bosses, or photos of them with their knickers around their ankles or having uokhun? style outbursts get deleted from feeds when the user has usually had a word from a concerned friends.

Sam Allcock of Custard Online Marketing, who are behind the study of 2,000 people, said: “In the last 10 years, the number of Brits using social media has grown rapidly – even our grandparents are on Facebook now. But it’s important to remember how many people have access to our photos, status updates and even our reaction to other people’s behaviour online.”

“It’s perhaps not surprising that so many adults have regrets lurking on their social media profiles, as our frequent access to smartphones and tablets makes it easier for us to post photos and comments at times we really shouldn’t. We suspect that everyone has made the mistake of posting too much information online, so at least it’s something everyone can relate to.”

Allcock added: “Alcohol can play a big part in the amount of regrettable social media posts – it’s a bad mix.”

There’s a Top 15 of the most popular internet regrets so let’s look at it:

1. Unflattering photographs
2. Raucous, drunken photos
3. Immature comments
4. Boring status updates
5. Over-emotional outbursts
6. Posts giving an opinion I no longer have
7. Photos of me, doing things I shouldn’t have done
8. Photos of me in skimpy clothing/underwear
9. Loved up or soppy comments about an ex or partner
10. Bad language
11. Controversial opinions that people get offended at
12. Jokes in bad taste
13. Bitching about someone
14. Vain selfies
15. Pictures of food

Kim Dotcom is back!

December 31st, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Kim Dotcom 300x224 Kim Dotcom is back! After a troubling year, Kim Dotcom is back! What’s he up to this time? Well, he’s said that he’s preparing to release a fully-encrypted video calling and chat service. It’ll be able to protect your communications from snooping governments and surveillance.

“Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers. Bye Bye Skype.” tweeted Dotcom.

“No U.S.-based online service provider can be trusted with your data,” added Kim Dotcom. “They must provide the U.S. government with backdoors.”

Of course, this is in reference to all the leaks surrounding Edward Snowden. After he finished whistleblowing, a good number of people decided that 2014 would be the year they almost wholly wore tinfoil hats.

Dotcom hasn’t given a release date for this new service, but it does look like it’ll be called MegaChat. French speaking countries will no doubt have a laugh at that.

“I will tweet about beta invites to #MegaChat in the coming weeks. This is going to be THE END of NSA mass surveillance & YOU WILL LOVE IT!” tweeted Kim Dotcom.

marriott Marriot Hotels to protect you by blocking your WiFiMarriott, the hotel group, want to block your internet connection when you stay with them and they’ll block your personal or mobile WiFi hotspots to do so.

Why? They reckon that this is all for your own protection.

Marriott have signed a petition (which you can see here) before the FCC so they can clarify or tinker with the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. In plain language, they want to be able to jam the network on their premises.

You can assume that this means they’ll introduce their own hotspot, which they’ll charge customers for and, if you don’t want in, your devices won’t be able to pick up any signal. Of course, Marriott have previous, as they’ve already been fined for jamming those on their premises in Nashville.

Marriott have said in response: “We understand there have been concerns regarding our position on the FCC petition filing, perhaps due to a lack of clarity about the issue. To set the record straight it has never been nor will it ever be Marriott’s policy to limit our guests’ ability to access the Internet by all available means, including through the use of personal Mi-Fi and/or Wi-Fi devices. As a matter of fact, we invite and encourage our guests to use these Internet connectivity devices in our hotels. To be clear, this matter does not involve in any way Wi-Fi access in hotel guestrooms or lobby spaces.”

“The question at hand is what measures a network operator can take to detect and contain rogue and imposter Wi-Fi hotspots used in our meeting and conference spaces that pose a security threat to meeting or conference attendees or cause interference to the conference guest wireless network.”

“In light of the increased use of wireless technology to launch cyber-attacks and purposefully disrupt hotel networks, Marriott along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association on behalf of the entire hotel industry is seeking clarity from the FCC regarding what lawful measures a network operator can take to prevent such attacks from occurring. We feel this is extremely important as we are increasingly being asked what measures we take to protect our conference and meeting guests and the conference groups that are using Wi-Fi technology in our hotels.”

What do you make of that? On social media, there’s a lot of people calling bullshit on the whole thing, with Marriott cutting and pasting a link to the above statement.

Spouting crap on Facebook may make you mad

December 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Spouting crap on Facebook may make you madEveryone talks bollocks on Facebook, but according to a new survey, it might be doing them harm and making them paranoid.

First up there’s the danger that people will start to believe their own inflated boastings.

Two-thirds of social media types also tend to air-brush their existence in exchange for likes and a growth in their narcissism, as findings from Pencourage claim. 68% of their respondees said they embellish, exaggerate or outright lie when documenting events on social media.

Psychologists are warning of this trend to pump-up nonsense and calling it ‘digital amnesia’, believing their own rubbish and it buggering about with real life memories. By lying on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, users may ‘rewrite’ their memories. Nearly half of respondents claimed to feel paranoia, sadness and shame as a result of not being able to live up to their online image.

Showing off on social media may result in an erosion of people’s personal identity. Dr Richard Sherry, clinical psychologist and founding member of the Society for Neuropsychoanalysis said: “Our need to document and share our lives is part of our nature and beneficial – but the strengths and drawbacks of social media need to be understood better by society.”

“Recent studies show that memories are actually modified and less accurate whenever we “retrieve” them from our minds, to the point of entirely changing their nature over time. Being competitive is normal. However, the dark side of this social conformity is when we negate what authentically feels to be “us” to the degree that we no longer recognise the experience, our voice, the memory or the view of ourselves.”

“When this starts to happen, feelings of guilt and distaste towards ourselves can create psychological problems, including anxiety. This can exacerbate certain personality traits which can become unhelpful, if not outright destructive.”

This behaviour on social media has disturbing implications due to something called ‘autobiographical memory’, Dr Sherry says. “Many studies have demonstrated that even the simple act of imagining a childhood event increases a person’s confidence that the event happened to them in the past.

Researchers have demonstrated how readily false memories can form through the simple use of language. Even the phrasing of a narrative can shape how we later remember it.”

Ooh er.

So in future, document the dullness and mundanity of modern life on your updates, rather than that time you flew off to the moon on a moped made of mince to eat platinum chocolate buttons with Kate Moss. Again.

Facebook develops AI to watch over you

December 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook develops AI to watch over youFacebook have said that they’re developing artificial intelligence, which is nice of them isn’t it? This AI will look over you and understand everything you do within the social network to help guide and control your behaviour.

You might think that is enough to chill the marrow in your bones, but Facebook have a different spin on it.

Yann LeCun, who heads up FAIR – that’s the creepy dystopian hell-name for Facebook’s AI division – said: “Imagine that you had an intelligent digital assistant which would mediate your interaction with your friends and also with content on Facebook.”

So how exactly will it guide you? Well, LeCun reckons that it’ll stop you from posting unflattering selfies. Imagine that – a program that is able to tell you if you look hanging or not. Of course, if you always looking minging, you might get a bit annoyed with some AI telling you all the sodding time.

Not only that, this artificial intelligence will take note of when you’re posting anything at all, whether you’ve been drinking, whether you’re in work or not and generally, it will try and gain context, draw a conclusion about it and then nag you. “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?” the digital neg would ask.

It might also say: ‘Really? You’ve downed half a bottle of Tesco Value you gin and you’re thinking about sending a message to your ex?’

LeCun says this will be achieved through ‘deep learning’, which is a complex clutch of algorithms that will try to process abstract concepts. Basically, Facebook are having a go at Fuzzy Logic.

Remember the Microsoft paper clip that used to ‘helpfully’ chip-in when you were doing something in Word? Well, Facebook wants to create one of those for your online life.

LeCun says that Facebook are in a good position to get this sorted too, because the company collect such vast amounts of your personal information. The social network is already analysing your behaviour (and sometimes messing with your emotions), so having this bleak cyber assistant shouldn’t be at all surprising.

So there we have it – Facebook are creating an intelligent spy that inanely offers to nag at users, slowly gliding into an Arthur C. Clarke nightmare.

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”

People are hapless with their passwords

December 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

password 300x225 People are hapless with their passwordsOver 40% of the UK reckon their passwords will never be guessed by a hacker. According to a survey of 1,000 British people, 63% use the same password on a variety of accounts.

The nosin’ around was part of research done by Redcentric, who also declared that 21% of the 1,000 questioned would only change their password when they were prompted.

A third of the respondees admitted that their passwords contained their names or birth date. The clots. 17% of the 1,000 also said that they kept password details on their phone or computer.

A Redcentric spokesperson said: “Online security is paramount in this day and age, especially as people are able to carry out more day-to-day tasks online such as shopping, banking and running businesses.

“There are obvious concerns when people are using the same passwords over different accounts, especially if those accounts hold personal or financial information. We recommend that you change your password every month or so depending on the kind of account it is, rather than just doing it when prompted.”

You could update your password every month, but which conventional normal human actually does?

selfie Half the public worried about putting pics onlineMore than half of the public still use email to share photos as they’re concerned about online safety, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 British adults, conducted by Berland for private photo and video sharing platform KatchUp reckons 59% the 2000 British adults polled still claim to use email rather than share on social networks, when sharing personal photos.

82% said that keeping in touch with family was the most important thing to them, and almost two thirds (62%) won’t share any photos in any online capacity due to privacy worries.

Reasons such as the time it takes to filter the pics (49%), a fear of data being collected on social media (33%) and a dislike of adverts (17%).

KatchUp founder Katie Hobbs reckons she came up with the idea after a family dinner, saying: “I can’t believe that in the 40 years since it was invented, families still haven’t found a way of sharing that matches the safety and peace of mind that email gives us.”

“We’re hoping that KatchUp can give families the platform for sharing online that these special relationships deserve.”

Admittedly, email may have been invented in 1974 or something, but nobody did anything remotely useful on a computer, or even really knew what email was until around 1997.

KatchUp – two words in one with caps, very ’00s – allows users to create their own personal timeline of images, which they can then invite family and friends to view. We eagerly await the ‘KatchUp Photos Leaked By Hackers’ stories that’ll hit the press within 12 months.

Social media should be simpler

December 1st, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Social media should be simplerSocial media companies should simplify their conditions as no-one can understand them. That’s according to the government, sitting on the parliamentary science and technology committee.

Of course, last week, we saw just how little MPs understand social media as it is, leaving one Tory red-faced as everyone saw how much he liked dirty photos.

Anyway, the complicated terms and conditions that allow firms like Facebook access to a wealth of personal information and even control a user’s phone are drafted for use in American court rooms, according to the committee.

The committee would like a new set of guidelines that make sure websites explain themselves a bit clearer, and that laws should be in place should they not comply.

The committee has pointed to terms for Facebook Messenger’s mobile app, which is used by more than 200,000 million people a month.

Basically, Facebook can gain direct access to a user’s mobile or tablet, including to take pictures or make videos, at any time without explicit confirmation from the owner.

Committee chair Andrew Miller said: “Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand,”

Miller went on to say that he’s sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to new guidelines on “clear communication and informed consent” that the committee is asking the British government to draw up.